Jim Bunning and Mike Schmidt put on the uniform of the Eugene Emeralds en route to their inductions to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Even a young Ken Griffey, Jr., who started his career with the Bellingham Mariners, patrolled the outfield in a series against the Ems at Civic Stadium. Since 1955, be it at the Class A or AAA level, these players and many more — Larry Bowa, Mario Soto and Eric (“The Red”) Davis, to name just three — have given Eugene baseball fans plenty to cheer about. The Emeralds, however, are at a crossroads. Can Eugene Save the Ems? is the topic of this week’s Eugene City Club, with Allan Benavides, the Ems’ general manager, as guest. In 2010, the Ems left Eugene’s beloved Civic Stadium for the University of Oregon’s PK Park, and now, through a combination of circumstances, the Ems will soon have to vacate that venue. One option appears to be the Lane County Fairgrounds, where Lane County Commissioners have instructed staff members to explore a multi-use stadium for baseball, concerts and community events. Here’s hoping Eugene can save the Ems for future fans and maybe even bring back the hometown feeling of the old Civic.
City Club of Eugene discusses “Can Eugene Save the Ems?” with Allan Benavides, general manager of the Eugene Emeralds, noon Jan. 21 at United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive Street. Seating is limited and proof of vaccination and booster is required. Live streaming can be found at CityClubofEugene.org. FREE.